Definition of quatrefoil in English:


Pronunciation /ˈkadərfoil/ /ˈkædərfɔɪl/


  • An ornamental design of four lobes or leaves as used in architectural tracery, resembling a flower or four-leaf clover.

    ‘In addition, the top areas of the main windows are decorated with stone tracery describing trefoils, quatrefoils and Moorish arches.’
    • ‘Both artists represented what has come to be called the small-pattern Holbein type, which has a field of offset alternating rows of strapwork octagons and quatrefoils that vary in number in carpets of different sizes.’
    • ‘At the tops of the windows, the artist has fun with the trefoils and quatrefoils, turning one into a black flower with yellow petals and another into a hovering cartoonlike form ringed by orange dots.’
    • ‘Dogwood, in white and pale yellow, is a complex quatrefoil that looks like a Gothic Frank Lloyd Wright design.’
    • ‘Quilt designs may have been influenced by this change in fashion, as grid designs filled with motifs such as hearts, flowers, pinwheels, and quatrefoils became common.’
    • ‘Strictly speaking, a quatrefoil is made up of four circles that intersect at the same point; more loosely, it is any four-petal vegetal motif.’
    • ‘These features are also shared with marginal sculptures of predominantly secular subject matter, such as several quatrefoils from the west portals of Amiens Cathedral and figural corbels from Noyon.’
    • ‘In a bravura distillation of possibilities, each painting creates one geometric set out of a series of curves: first a triangle, then a set of squares, then a pentagon, then an ever-expanding set of red quatrefoils.’
    • ‘The disks, ovals and quatrefoils could stand for heads, torsos and limbs, while the lustrous, mirror-like like surfaces are literally and symbolically reflective in the sense of an object used for meditation.’
    • ‘The blind fret carving on the chest-on-chest illustrated here forms an interlaced pattern of alternating quatrefoils and diamonds.’
    • ‘Some of the resulting works clearly echo organic, generally floral, motifs such as Apsaras, whose swelling blue and green quatrefoils swirl out from a central node.’
    • ‘The gable is ‘enlivened with twisting colonnettes, leaded windows in arched openings, and quatrefoils.’’
    • ‘From the outside with its pinnacles and quatrefoils, the gallery resembled a cathedral.’
    • ‘One was characterized by a centralized motif, frequently a quatrefoil, the colors pulsating, the rhythms circular or spiraling, the space nebulous, shifting between surface and depth.’
    • ‘Made of mahogany with boxwood and maple inlays and black walnut, tulip poplar, and yellow pine secondary woods, the distinctive feature is the mastic or pitch used to fill in the quatrefoil and scalloped inlays on the legs.’
    • ‘The officer cap, for instance, has a quatrefoil because when the Marines used to be snipers up in the masts of sailing vessels they would tie ropes on top of their hats so they could be identified by the friendlies and not be shot.’
    • ‘Sicilian marquetry furniture is immediately recognizable by the rosettes with eight petals, similar to the quatrefoil of Genoa and the star of Naples.’
    • ‘In addition to its striking formal presence large and strong and yet flowerlike the quatrefoil has iconographic resonances that go far back in time.’
    • ‘Officers have the quatrefoil on their service caps, and all wear the bronze 1868 globe and anchor and khaki shirts with neckties.’
    • ‘The body is basically elliptical, but it is contoured to create an elongated quatrefoil.’


Late 15th century from Anglo-Norman French, from Old French quatre ‘four’ + foil ‘leaf’.